Bovine growth hormone whistle blower dies at 84

Shiv Chopra, a former researcher with Health Canada who made headlines over objections to a veterinary drug, died Jan. 7 at the age of 84.

Chopra and a fellow scientist, Margaret Haydon, claimed they were being pressured into approving the use of a bovine growth hormone that can boost milk production in dairy cows.

The drug was never approved in Canada.

Chopra was deemed by some to be a hero for his stance against BGH and for his role as a whistle blower who aimed the spotlight on issues surrounding food safety. Among other issues, Chopra spoke out against feeding animal protein to other animals, a practice considered to have led to BSE in cattle.

However, others deemed him a crank for his stance against pesticides, genetically modified organisms and vaccination.

Chopra and two other scientists were fired by Health Canada in 2004 for insubordination, which led to a series of legal wranglings that lasted for years and eventually saw him lose a final appeal for reinstatement in September 2017.

Peter Dowling, a former National Farmers Union co-ordinator, said Jan. 10 that Chopra spoke against approval of BGH at the same time that the NFU was raising its own objections.

“Having Health Canada veterinarians speak out about issues with the drug regulatory system at the bureau was a huge boost to the campaign,” said Dowling.

“It resulted in a decision not to approve (recombinant) BGH here in January 1999, ironically due to its risk to animal, not human, health.

“I think of him often and admire Shiv’s courage, integrity and tenacity in speaking out on matters of great importance to Canadians — food safety, human health, and well-being of farmers and their cows. He expected the federal government to uphold the laws of our country and blew the whistle with his colleagues when the rules were not followed.”

After his firing from the federal government, Chopra wrote a book, Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower, and recorded a blues rap called Dr. Shiv Chopra, Whistleblowing Scientist.

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